“The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” may be an old cliché but most applicable nonetheless. If you are overweight or lean by nature and have a tendency towards certain maladies chances are very good your child will also.
These are genetic factors beyond our control. Within our control, however, are environmental factors such as the examples we set and the habits and lifestyles we promote. These are the things our children learn from us; we are their role models and they strive to emulate us especially in the formative years. The wise parent will practice as he preaches.
If you do nothing but sit on the couch after work or at the end of the day and eat the wrong foods because you are “too tired” or “too busy” aka too lazy your child will do the same. The behaviors and foods that we engage in are also the same that our children should.
The activities will differ in amount and intensity based on maturity but we must be active and move ourselves. The amounts and macronutrient ratios of the foods will vary reflecting growth needs as well as activity levels but the foods themselves are the same. What is not healthy for an adult would also not be healthy for a child in most related circumstances.
At CrossFit Jaguar we started a kid’s fitness program a year ago– http://www.jaguarfit.com/kids/.
As it continued to grow my two coaches and I headed to Miami for the CF Kids certification this past March. While I do not have children myself most of my friends and clients do and seeing things from an outside perspective often give a very clear picture. I witnessed this first hand at the certification. While I was excited for the program to expand I will honestly say my niche is adults–athletes to be specific.
I enjoy training a variety of people and have a passion for progress at any level but we all have our favorite. I was in for quite a surprise; I not only learned a lot about the similarities between the two but enjoyed the educational weekend more than I ever imagined and came back with a very inspired new focus on our children’s program.
Healthy Child = Healthy Adult
Where do healthy adults and adult athletes come from? Well, they all begin as children. If we can take them untainted, unbiased, without years of cumulative damage from improper footwear, sitting all day, inactivity and poor nutritional choices and mold them over the course of years instilling physical activity, proper nutrition and life skills what are they going to be like in 20, 30 or 40+ years. WOW. That was when the light bulb came on. They are going to be far beyond our current generations in health, fitness, performance and the competitive arena if they so desire. We as parents and fitness professionals have this power in our hands.
What power am I speaking of—the power to shape their lives. We are giving them a lifelong definition of fitness which in reality is a snapshot of health as well as prevent the top 2 diseases afflicting our children today—obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Through exercise and proper nutrition we can prevent disease, hone their life skills and give them a new perception of self. Pretty potent stuff if you ask me.
And we can also make them smarter and more successful. Kids sit in school all day with physical fitness minimal to nonexistent. The average child spends 4 to 6 hours a day on the computer, watching tv or playing video games. The last thing they need when they come home from school is to do more of the same. They need to move. Exercise enhances scholastic achievement by improving brain function and cognitive abilities. Physiologically their blood is flowing, their hormones are being released, and neurotransmitters are being stimulated. They are growing new neurons at the molecular level. All these peak 5-35 min after exercise; their brain is primed for learning, that’s when they should hit their homework.
Beyond the aforementioned benefits your children will sleep better, they will feel better, they will perform better and they will have fewer problems in life; the ones they encounter they will be better equipped to deal with. They will not be on Ritalin, cholesterol meds and over prescribed antibiotics and will have far less incidences of allergies, asthmas and other disorders. Although it is far more complex than the scope of this article and exercise and nutrition are only parts of a multi faceted approach they are a large parts. I suffice it to say getting your child involved in fitness at an early age and leading by example will make both your lives better.
Stay tuned for part 2 on Programming Fitness into your child’s life and how to make it fun!
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar in Tampa, FL